Welcome, RL, and thanks for joining us today to share about your story, Hemmed In, in the “Always a Wedding Planner” Romance collection.
So, tell us about your story.
Kiki Bell is a forty-something seamstress who creates wedding gowns, bridesmaids’ dresses, veils, and any wedding attire ordered by clients. She enjoys working with her best friends and together they help brides feel beautiful on their special day. She inherited her late aunt and uncle’s farm and dreams of turning it into a wedding venue.
Kiki adopted her late sister and brother-in-law’s children. Her niece and nephew Tressa and Jack Torres are her world. Kiki believes she is past the age of matrimony. Who would notice a single mom with two teenagers?
Bing Kelley is a forty-something fireman and local crooner. As a confirmed bachelor-till-the-rapture, previous relationships have taught him that women are complicated and who has time for that? But when a fire at a farm close to his home introduces him to Kiki Bell he is smitten. He is the proud owner of a large black lab named Oxford that specializes in eating. Ox plays an important role in getting Bing and Kiki together. He helps set up their first date and loves the new neighbor kids. Oxford was a fun character to write.
Throughout the story, Kiki and Bing learn to trust and love each other.
And now, about the setting. Loveland, Colorado is a beautiful town. With its backdrop against the Rocky Mountains, it’s the ideal place for a romance novel. After all, it’s the land of love and there’s no better place for a single seamstress to meet a confirmed bachelor-till-the rapture. The Weddings by Design office is set in the downtown area and Kiki enjoyed her colleagues and job. Working with her best friends had its perks. That is until the new office manager moves Kiki’s sewing zone to the garage. Her new work area is a source of conflict in the story.
As the descendent of a long line of farmers, placing my characters in a rural setting was something that appealed to me. Kiki Bell inherited her late aunt and uncle’s farm. With the help of her niece and nephew, her family commenced with the daunting task of decluttering the house and outbuildings in hopes of turning the place into a wedding venue.
Bing Kelley’s farm is located across the road. He keeps his place in pristine shape. Perhaps it is a sign he has too much time on his hands. Living as neighbors, the setting is used to aid Kiki and Bing’s relationship.
As for the story behind my story, a family is a group of people that love each other and are concerned about the growth and well-being of each member. Hemmed In is a story based on a family that does not look like everyone else’s. I wanted to focus on a non-traditional family, a family that should be celebrated for its uniqueness. Several of my aunts either went through a divorce or became widows. My uncles were classy men who married my aunties and became wonderful fathers to my cousins. The word “step” was relegated to something one climbed to get into their homes. It never referred to adults or children. That left a profound impact on me.
As a single parent myself, I understand the load one must bear raising children alone. Single parents are not given enough credit for the heavy load they bear. The financial, emotional, and physical challenges were difficult. The blessings too many to count. The relationship with God so deep.
My children are grown so the single parent load is lighter, and my aunts and uncles have gone on to heaven. Their legacy served as the inspiration for this story.
I believe every reader looks for something different in a story, but that there is always a special message that resonates and keeps the story in our minds.
Hemmed In focuses on God’s relationship with the individual and the individual’s relationship with others. When I was writing the story, I chose the following verse as the theme. “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5 NIV)
As a professional seamstress, the New International Version uses the word “hem” and it appealed to me. A garment or project without a hem looks sloppy and is unfinished. The fabric unravels and deteriorates over time. The item lasts longer and is more serviceable if it has a hem in it. Recognizing God’s protection and leading in our lives, reminds me of a finished seam.
The words “You hem me in” demonstrate God’s active participation in the believer’s life. Behind, before, and above denote the surrounding presence of the Lord in our lives. God stitches the broken places making them whole.
Not only do stories seek to instruct and encourage, but they are also created for fun. Novels take the reader on many kinds of adventures. Entertainment serves its purpose when the one being entertained can forget about life’s struggles for a while and rejuvenate. My happy place would be a library with floor-to-ceiling shelves stuffed with books and a hammock.
And now for a bonus bit. Leeann Betts and I collaborated on our mutual character Camilla Parsons. Every story needs an antagonist to drive the conflict. Camilla is a leader in the making only she does not quite know how to use her abilities in the best way. She is bossy and speaks before she thinks. Attracted to firefighters, she has her sights set on Bing Kelley. She goes through great lengths to attract his attention and keep him away from Kiki.
I enjoyed writing the scene where Camilla plays the bagpipes outside of Kiki‘s cabin window early in the morning. Camilla’s musical ability is compared to goats having their first trombone lesson. It takes me back to fifth grade band class where the students would “practice” their individual songs simultaneously before the music teachers arrived at the school. That is a sound one is unlikely to forget.
Camilla has a secret that she keeps from her colleagues at the office. Does she divulge that secret before the story ends?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
R.L. ASHLY is a master seamstress with a Master of Arts degree in Literature (May, 2019). She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Literature in the near future. A mother and grandmother, she is active in her local writing community, never says never to a home improvement task, and strives to one day write the Great American Novel.
RL Ashly writes on the run. She enjoys a good mystery with a complicated plot. Iced tea is her beverage of choice. Hemmed In is her first traditionally published novel.
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